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Stand-up Scientists

Quick: in three minutes, in front of a non-scientist crowd, explain how harnessing photosynthesis can help feed the world's growing population. That's what the winner of the Famelab International "stand-up scientist" contest, Padraic Flood did, writes George Zarkadakis at the Guardian's Notes & Theories blog.

Famelab, which began in 2007, aims to bring science into mainstream culture. Recently, Zarkadakis says, there's been a culture war regarding stem cells, genetically modified organisms, and climate change. There, "rhetoric often weighed heavier than facts," he says, adding that "[s]cience had to reclaim its cultural relevance. And that meant that science had to start making sense to the unscientific majority."

Other finalists discussed how bees can be trained to detect explosives and illegal drugs as well as how stem cells could possibly be used to treat dementia.